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An XSEDE Campus Bridging success story:  Cluster installation at Marshall University

Project Leads: Jeremy Fischer, Eric Coulter

Divisions/Groups who enabled highlight:  UITS Research Technologies' Campus Bridging and Research Infrastructure (CBRI) and Collaboration and Engagement Support Group (CESG)

Funding: National Science Foundation, ACI-1053575

Figure 1. Graph showing CPU usage of the Biggreen cluster after the upgrade by XSEDE Campus Bridging staff.

The Biggreen Dell cluster at Marshall University in Huntington, WV, was recently rebuilt as an XSEDE-Compatible Basic Cluster (XCBC). It had been running a commercial cluster package whose license had run out. Due to this license expiration, half of the nodes and many features of the cluster were not available for use. Since funds were not available to renew the licensing, and since the cluster was also in need of considerable software updates, the decision was made to deploy the XCBC software stack on Biggreen. After a week of work, the cluster was entirely rebuilt on Rocks 6.2 with the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) software roll as well as full Nvidia graphic processing unit (GPU) support so that their eight GPU cards could be fully utilized for research.

Biggreen is used by researchers in chemistry and physics, as well as other disciplines at Marshall. The acts of upgrading the cluster, getting all nodes working, and getting the GPUs working allow the scientists to complete their research more quickly and allow more computationally intense research to be done. The local, state, regional, and national scientific communities all stand to benefit from having a viable cluster again at Marshall University.

As part of its Campus Bridging effort, the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) distributes a custom Rocks roll designed to minimize the complexity of building XSEDE-compatible Linux clusters for use by the US open science community. The XSEDE Rocks roll provides the widely used, open-source, scientific, mathematical, and visualization packages needed to convert a "bare-bones" Rocks cluster into an XCBC, a high-performance parallel computing cluster that's compatible with XSEDE digital services.

For more information visit this podcast from Tennessee Supercomputing, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, United States:

To learn how Campus Bridging can enable a cluster system or cluster upgrade on your campus visit:

The Campus Bridging and Research Infrastructure division of PTI provides a number of IT services in direct support of scientific discovery, including data collection and processing for the Operation IceBridge project.

The Collaboration and Engagement Support Group (CESG) helps Indiana University, PTI, and Research Technologies translate innovation into meaningful improvements in the quality of life for residents of the state of Indiana and the US (and world) as a whole.

For information about the Pervasive Technology Institute, the Research Technologies Division of UITS, and IU’s advanced cyberinfrastructure see